Slipping down the slope

The number of small employers offering health coverage to their employees slipped again to 61 percent. That’s down from 69 percent at the beginning of the decade, according to Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

The survey, released today, contains a number of other sobering stats:

  • Among big companies, deductibles rose by 11 percent to $473 for individuals, $1,134 for a family.
  • Small company deductibles rose at a slower pace, but still tend to be higher at $872 for individuals and $1,879 for families.
  • Underinsurance — through consumer directed health plans — rose by 5 percent

While employers are currently saving money by having more workers enroll in consumer-directed plans and shifting more costs to workers, the savings are only a short-term benefit, another human resources consulting firm has noted.

“It’s critical that companies design their health care programs in a way that encourages employees to use them — and use them wisely. Otherwise, they are essentially trading preventative care now for ‘rescue care’ later, which will lead to unhealthy employee populations, a decrease in employee productivity and ultimately — higher health care costs,” said Jim Winkler, with Hewitt’s Health Management Consulting.

On that gloomy note, I really hope something happens this year.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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